How to study when you’re sick.

The photo above is my current situation. Although I am typing this post while sitting on a desk, I have been living in my bed. Fighting the tiredness doesn’t make it go away, unfortunately. I’m sure most of you know what it’s like… assignments due, classes to go to, rent to pay and the list goes on! So, how does a student study while sick? I’m about to tell you.

What’s your priority?

Over the course of this semester, I’ve accepted now that studying is one of my main priorities. And no, I didn’t accept it for months, until recently. I was set on working four days a week and studying meticulously during off-hours. However, it did not work out that way at all. The complete opposite, in fact. Nowadays, I study more than I work and it’s a constant cycle of “I may not pay rent, but that’s cool, I’m getting an education”. You may think an education isn’t all that important – that’s okay! This post is geared towards those who do. Then again, isn’t life full of lessons anyway? Ha!

Back to the subject.

Right now, my body is aching and my lungs are struggling a bit more than usual to take in oxygen.

My priority then, is to complete anything that is due next, like my counseling assignment. Once that’s done, I’ll study for a test that’s coming up next week. Revise, revise, revise! Anything else can take a seat in the back, as far as I’m concerned. Things like readings (I’ve been doing terribly, if I’m honest), lectures (almost up to date) and practicals — will be attended in due time.

Also, try and refrain from infecting others as much as possible. Stay home or distance yourself if you have to be out and about.

So, what’s your priority? Make a list. Work down that list in order of importance. Use as little energy as possible. You’ll need it to recover and be well.

Rest, and take breaks.

Although I’m in the comfort of my own room, it’s still important to rest and take breaks. Some people can handle aching muscles and constant coughing in public – I can’t. Unless it’s an absolutely mandatory task (test/exam/critical information to pass a subject), you’ll find me at home, studying but taking my time.

If you are able to, take your time, have as many resting breaks as you need. Look after your body, you only get one. Unless cloning is a thing…?!

Nourish your body.

I must admit, the last few weeks of assignments, tests and general living have proven tough. My diet has not been the best. However, now that my body has contracted some sort of chest infection, it’s super important that I eat well. This is advice to those who fall into the categories like  “I don’t have time to eat”, “I’m lazy” or “I’ll just eat when I really need to”.
It’s important to take care of yourself not just externally (exercise, hygiene and so on) but internally too. Right now, I’m sipping on ginger, honey and turmeric tea. Yesterday’s tea was turmeric and honey. For breakfast, I had a sweet-potato and vegan cheese sandwich, as it was easy and required the least amount of effort.

Eat more fruits and vegetables! Stay away from sugary drinks, dairy and greasy food. Do stay hydrated and well-fed!

Give your body the nourishment it needs. If your energy comes from anything, let it be good food and hot, soothing teas. Or water if tea isn’t your thing!

Good luck, and may you complete your assignments/tasks to the best of your abilities. I’m going to study and possibly cough up a lung.

Note: please see a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve.

The pursuit of balance.

Whenever I get sick, I immediately think it’s because something in my life is out of balance. Whether it’s to do with my diet, social life, study or personal life – it is a reminder to reevaluate where I’m at. My mood dips and I just don’t feel “myself”. Or maybe I’m not drowning my hands in enough sanitiser…?

Whatever the cause of this funk, I’ve found that nature and meditation helps to rebalance my mind and body. 🌿

Yesterday was one of the reasons I decided to write this post. My partner and I attended a Japanese festival and decided to take a break from the big crowds. We sat in the shade, next to a row of trees that swayed with the afternoon breeze. I crossed my legs and closed my eyes. Peace. Those few moments of silence, awakened a feeling within. The feeling I experienced was like satisfying a hunger that food could not provide. It’s as if my soul needed this all week. It felt like an itch that I could finally scratch. I felt whole.

This is what I want, all the time, everyday.

Of course, I know that life is full of ups and downs, sadness and disappointments; but how different would my life be if I could actually find stillness even in the chaos of life, and not just in the comfort of my own home? So many moments remind me how important stillness can be for this ever-evolving journey. I wish I had this clarity back when I felt like a ticking time-bomb… that’s a story for another day!

This week, I invite you to practice silence/meditation for at least 10 minutes (or longer if you prefer). Find a place whether indoors or outdoors where you can meditate. No distractions, turn your phone off, silence the to-do-list and just be. Find gratitude in the small things: having a blanket for the cool nights, having access to clean drinking water and a roof over your head, and many more I’m sure you can think of!

If you realise that you are not happy with the state your life is in or the way your thinking has sunk into the dark abyss, talk to a trusted family member/friend or start an action plan. Or find a professional you can talk to, to help you through the darkness. There’s nothing wrong with needing assistance! Life can be tough.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

What helps you rebalance? What brings you clarity? What is within your control that you are willing to change? What habits can you include daily to lead a more peaceful life? Who is it in your life that can help you on this journey? Who can you look up to either by online influence or in real life to guide you? What will you take responsibility for? What can you forgive yourself for? Is there a way you can give back to the community or the universe for getting you to this point? Remember, everything is connected. If you believe you are no good, you will be no good. If you believe anything is possible, you will achieve whatever you set your mind to. Find whatever it is, that fuels your fire. Give yourself some space to breathe and just be.

Influencers I look up to:

  • Susan David
  • Judah Smith
  • Tom Bilyeu
  • Jonathan Levi
  • Nadine Burke Harris
  • Kate James
  • Amanda Nguyen
  • Trevor Noah
  • Jay Shetty
  • Jessica O. Matthews
  • Don Miguel Ruiz

Creatives that inspire me:

  • Annie Tarasova
  • Natkelley (Instagram)
  • cam & nina (YouTube)
  • Michael Seeley (YouTube)
  • Infinite Waters (YouTube)
  • Yoga With Adrienne (YouTube)
  • Plantmama (Instagram)
  • Kim Noble
  • Kylie Grills

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to type it out below or send me an electronic letter! I am planning to start an encouragement card service soon! Watch this space!

… and may the balance be with you.

I have been where you are.

used 1.05.18

Today’s post is about how to tackle stress – from a 24 year old, university student. (Side note: as I write this post, I can see the sun is shining through my blinds. What lovely symbolism!)

Let me explain how things have been lately:

  • I have been sick/on antibiotics and medication constantly
  • The uni break was a BREAK, no revision whatsoever
  • I’ve put tremendous stress on myself in terms of finances

So basically, I’ve been stressed. A light in the clouds has occurred today, though. From time to time, I find myself in a “slump” of recurring sickness/problems. Life is a mix of stress and joy after all. I wanted to share how even though things get shitty, there’s a way through! Below are 3 ways I have used to combat stress. I’m not perfect, but these 3 things have given me skills to handle life’s situations.

 

1. Find your community.

I can’t stress how important it is to find your community/communities. Whether it’s a trusted family member, friendship group, online group, a professional/mentor – find your community! I’ve realised over the last couple of years, although I have loving family and friends and an amazingly supportive partner, I wanted to also surround myself with like-minded individuals from around the world that could push me to be a better person. The first group I ever joined with self-improvement in mind was Millennial Entrepreneur Community (search it if you have a Facebook account). It is a group designed to help troubleshoot business problems, ideas and collaborate with other professionals. This group set a fire in me and constantly does to seek betterment and improvement. To implement ideas and execute with some knowledge and a lot of bravery. Another group I joined recently is called Wild Woman Sisterhood. I wanted to find women who empower each other, support each other and share experiences and advice. In time, I am sure I will be more active in these groups and that alone creates another community on it’s own. Find people you vibe with. Who tell you the truth. Who also support you when it is needed.

 

2. Time out.

Although the ‘teaching break’ is presented as an extra two weeks of studying – I can admit, I did no such thing. Time away from the computer screen, deadlines and hours of reading was the nicest two weeks I have had in a while. I could have definitely fitted in a couple days a week to study but I had pushed myself so much the first couple months, that I had lost complete interest in learning or revising any more. I was overwhelmed. I’m still working on it, and as this is a recurring problem, I know now how important it is to time out! Keeping your mind and body under stress can be harmful. Even if it’s just 10-20 minutes a day or every second day – whatever suits you. Find a relaxing hobby! A few things I enjoy are: taking a walk around the neighbourhood, watching a show with my partner, cooking new recipes, yoga, finding inspiration on YouTube and getting lost in visual art/expression. So remember to take some time for yourself when you can!

 

3. Express your stress. 

Finding people to spur you on and taking a break from the everyday routine is great. In my experience, so is having an outlet for frustration and stress that may arise from many aspects of life: relationships, work, self-depreciation. I approach this by typing it all out in a private blog – word vomit, if you will. Sometimes I write multiple posts.
Other ways I express my stress is being honest. If the conversation arises, I tell my friends/workmates/partner that no, I’m stressed and mad and not in the mood. Usually from this, I find the root of the problem (and apologise for angry outbursts that are in no way personal, just my personal problem).
In some circumstances, I contact a mental health professional. I’ve learned over the years that it’s okay to seek professional help if your own solutions are no longer getting you anywhere. It’s important to know who and what organisations to contact if this is the case. I will include contact numbers/websites at the end of this post. Another way I have expressed my stress is at work; asking if shifts are available, making sure all state managers are aware that there is a sales assistant willing to travel for the hours.

“If you never ask, the answer is always no.” – Nora Roberts

With this, comes gratitude. I am so thankful that I’ve found coping mechanisms (courtesy of health professionals, family, friends, a lovely partner) communities and a job where I am appreciated and paid well.

I hope this post is found to be helpful. And as a lovely, warrior woman has said to me, I am passing this on to you:

I have been where you are.

Bad times don’t last forever. Our minds can heal. Our bodies can heal.

You are not alone. If you are experiencing extreme stress and feel you may need assistance, here are some contacts and websites based in Australia:

  • beyondblue.org.au 1300 22 4636 – depression/anxiety awareness
  • kidshelpline.com.au 1800 55 1800 – private, confidential counselling
  • lifeline.org.au 13 11 14 – crisis support, suicide prevention
  • qlife.org.au 1800 184 527 – LGBTI support site
  • vvcs.gov.au 1800 011 046 – veteran, war-related support

 

Fuel for The Fire

Three years ago was when this story began. At the age of 21, I was ready to finally study something that would set me up for my career: Transpersonal Art Therapy. I know what you’re thinking, “What is ‘Transpersonal’ Art Therapy?”. According to notes from my old books, it is “a holistic approach, considering one’s mental, physical, social and emotional well-being. There is more to a person than their immediate identity”. This course opened my mind to things I never thought I’d learn. From the use of art mediums to the concept of consciousness. Every class was exciting.

 

The Struggle

As time went on however, certain memories throughout my childhood and adolescence would take me so aback I could barely concentrate – this is how I learned about triggers. To explain, I was watching a movie with my partner and had a mosquito bite. He told me a source of heat can stop the itch. He took the lighter out and in seconds, a lick of fire appeared, heating the metal casing. As soon as the metal made contact with my skin, I recoiled from the shock of heat – feeling like a 7 year old – knees to chest, wanting to hide away. Fear, my old friend, was back. Now, it was normal to discuss such life occurrences. If we can’t help ourselves, how can we help others? I saw a counsellor at the college and she gave me advice that dismissed my memories; to have sympathy for the person who hurt me as a child. From my perspective, my feelings have been on hold for a decade, pushed way down so I wouldn’t have to deal with it, but here we are! That was the last time I saw her, I can tell you that. I also believe it was a mix of my immaturity and lack of professional support that lead to the mental disaster which ensued. Besides college, my job performance was getting worse, I was in-between-housing for a period of time – nothing felt stable. Anxiety and depression showed up to the party too. And a party it was. A messy, not-wanting-to-live, confusing party.

 

Decisions

I made the decision to quit my job and stop studying for my sanity’s sake the following year. It was time I get my life in order. No more toxic people or environments. The month that followed, was filled with reflection and doing-whatever-I-so-pleased. It gave me the opportunity to regroup mentally and physically (those that know me, know I love food, but due to stress I lost so much weight). I was living in a temporary home when I heard a friend was looking for a housemate. Eventually, we were approved for a unit we wanted. When I was finally settled, it felt like an ’emotional skin’ was shed. I felt free, secure and sane. I wasn’t the same but I was feeling better in myself. After this break, I was sure that mental-health was the career industry for me. Life is lived forwards but fucking hell, I wish I could have gotten a heads-up like “it’s sooo shit now, but it’ll get better”. Still, I’m grateful for how things turned out.

 

Fighting Fear

A huge theme that came up in the 2 years I was studying Art Therapy was fear. Fear of failure. Five times before I started university, I wanted to back out because ‘what if I don’t pass any classes? What if I can’t retain any information?’. I see now, it is the absolute opposite. My brain is like a sponge, soaking up all there is to know about psychology and counselling. Another fear I had was learning a new language. I’m learning Japanese and can now read and spell words written in kana. Recently, I joined online groups about minimalism and millennial entrepreneurs – these groups of people are trailblazers in life. They’ve inspired me to go to the next level – whichever that may be. They teach me to be brave. Another fear was starting the very blog you are reading. I have been worried for the longest time whether this ‘mental-health, well-being and art platform’ would be taken well. But the function of a blog is not just to be taken well but to be used well. This is where I invite you to talk openly about struggles and achievements. This is where self-expression is encouraged! I’ve said it to multiple people I’ve encountered over the years and I will say it here: this is a no-judgement zone. This story is my fuel for the fire.